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Hickenlooper, Bennet, Colleagues Reintroduce Legislation to Deschedule Marijuana, End Federal Prohibition of Cannabis

May 3, 2024

Legislation comes after DEA recently rescheduled marijuana from Schedule I to a Schedule III classification 

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators John Hickenlooper and Michael Bennet joined 16 of their Senate colleagues in reintroducing the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act, comprehensive legislation that would end the harmful federal prohibition of marijuana by removing cannabis from the list of federally controlled substances (descheduling) and empowering states to create their own laws.

“Americans resoundingly support legalization,” said Hickenlooper. “The federal government needs to deschedule and decriminalize marijuana so we can move on to more effectively regulating marijuana while prioritizing social equity and righting the wrongs of the war on drugs.” 

“This long-overdue legislation will protect legal businesses and workers in Colorado, open up research into cannabis, expand tax revenues, and help address historic inequities in our justice system. Congress should follow Colorado’s lead and bring our nation’s marijuana laws into the 21st century,” said Bennet.

The CAOA establishes a federal regulatory framework to protect public health and safety, prioritizes restorative and economic justice to help undo the decades of harm caused by the failed war on drugs, ends discrimination in the provision of federal benefits on the basis of cannabis use, provides major investments for cannabis research, and strengthens worker protections. By decriminalizing cannabis at the federal level, the CAOA also ensures that state-legal cannabis businesses or those in adjacent industries will no longer be denied access to bank accounts or financial services simply because of their ties to cannabis. The CAOA is led by Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and U.S. Senators Cory Booker and Ron Wyden.

On Tuesday, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) moved to reschedule marijuana from a Schedule I drug to a Schedule III drug following recent callsfrom Hickenlooper and members of Congress. Hickenlooper also urged the DEA to deschedule marijuana in January. Last August, Hickenlooper reintroduced his PREPARE Act, which would direct the federal government to develop a regulatory framework for when marijuana is legalized federally, modeled after Colorado’s regulatory commission convened under then-Governor Hickenlooper.

The text of the bill can be found here. A summary of the introduced CAOA can be found here.


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